Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

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The Anger Meridian

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Following her husband’s suspicious death, Merryn Huntley flees with her daughter to Mexico, where she discovers she can’t outrun self-deception.

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Discussion Guide for The Anger Meridian

1. How do you like Merryn’s voice as the narrator of the story? How does being inside Merryn’s mind help you understand her relationship with her mother?

2. How did you react to knowing what Merryn was thinking, then seeing her say or do something to conceal what she was thinking? Were there moments when you felt you knew more than Merryn? Could you discern a different truth behind Merryn’s understanding of things?

3. Merryn lies to everyone, including her daughter, to some degree. As a reader, do you dislike her? Or do you feel compassion for her? Is your instinct to see her fail, or succeed?

4. Given the recent subprime mortgage banking scandal and the general dissatisfaction and outrage that the public feels over the injustice surrounding these events—and recent films such as The Wolf of Wall Street in which we see high-rolling bankers getting away with theft—do you think Merryn’s actions are moral?

5. When the psychic yoga instructor Alberta Zaldaña says, “If good cannot come of bad things, then what is the point of life?” what does he mean? Has Merryn misinterpreted his words?

6. How important is it in our society to feel loved and accepted by our parents? Do you feel you must love and honor your own parents no matter what they do?

7. If you were Merryn, how would you have handled the situation with the FBI? Was she in some ways justified in lying to them?

8. In psychological terms, “Denial is probably one of the best known defense mechanisms, used often to describe situations in which people seem unable to face reality or admit an obvious truth (i.e. ‘He’s in denial.’). Denial is an outright refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. Drug addicts or alcoholics often deny that they have a problem, while victims of traumatic events may deny that the event ever occurred.” How well, as a society and as individuals, do we accept that denial is a form of mental illness? Have you ever experienced occasions when a family member or close friend is in denial?

9. How is San Miguel de Allende depicted in the novel? What do you learn about the environment of the city? How are relations between tourists and natives depicted?

10. Has gentrification affected an area you love? Is gentrification in general good for the economy? Is it good for the environment?

11. What activities are associated with each character? What do you see Bibi doing for fun? What does Merryn do during her time in San Miguel? How about Tenney? What do these actions and activities say about these characters?

12. Where does Sofia come from? What are the attitudes of the different characters (Bibi, Merryn, and Tenney) to Sofia? How does she become a focus of conflict for the different characters?

13. Are there other literary animals that come to mind in novels you’ve read?



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